Since the World War II, the life styles of human beings the world over have changed considerably. Now human beings are inclined on more and more consumption or utilization of resources. Most of the human societies of the world like those of the North America or Western Europe are consuming all the resources up to unprecedented levels.
One who consumes more produces more wastes. The heavily industrialized countries consume more fuel. Hence it is evident that they produce more wastes. On the other hand, they alone are responsible for the depletion of most of our natural resources. Thus, over consumption is the biggest hurdle in the way of sustainable development.
About 2, 00,000 calories of energy are utilized per person per day on a developed country. Current estimates project the consumption of energy in industrialized countries to go up by 800000 calories per person per day within next 20 years. Most of the resources of the world are consumed by a few rich people of the world. What will the developing world do with a handful of resources?
Rich and industrialized countries having about less of population consume most of the resources of the world like- they consume 86% of aluminium, 81% of iron and steel and 76% of timber. According to a report an average citizen of United States uses 540 tonnes of organic chemicals in his whole life.
The pattern of consumption has changed in the world considerably over the years. On the other hand, the pattern of production has also changed considerably especially in industrialized world. These changing trends in the patterns of consumption and production have created a consumer society, changed the market systems and have created serious disparities among the rich and the poor. On the other hand, emerging consumerism has aggravated the problems of pollution which is further leading the world towards a number of grave environmental problems. Precisely, there are many different causes of increasing unsustainable pattern of consumption that are discussed below.
Quality of life Vs. Quality of environment
Growing economic activity i.e., production and consumption, requires larger inputs of energy and material, and generates larger quantities of waste by-products. Increased extraction of natural resources, accumulation of waste and concentration of pollutants will therefore overwhelm the carrying capacity of the biosphere and result in the degradation of environmental quality and a decline in the quality of human life and human welfare, despite rising incomes.
Economists the world over, came to agree that Jobs and goods are necessary for the growing population and some degree of industrialization is necessary for this development.
Gradually development became to be thought of as an evolutionary process which should involve economic growth, social, ethical and cultural modernization, values and practices of traditional societies and modern ideas of the west.
This approach to development paved the way for heavy industrialization, expansion and modernization of agriculture, implementation of mega river valley projects and construction of big dams, rise in consumption, wastage and overuse of resources, clearance of forests, urbanization etc.
After sometime these tendencies and practices of modernization started producing their products in the forms of degradation of land, air, and water pollution, extinction of species of plants and animals, global warming, depletion of ozone layer, spread of new epidemics and pollution related diseases, health hazards, depletion and contamination of ground water, loss of wetlands and mangroves, rise in frequency of cyclones and several other problems.
In 1987 United Nations’ sponsored World Commission on Environment and Development was organized in which commission defined sustainable development as- ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs’. In this definition it has been stated that –
The current model of development preserves natural resources but also employs technologies. And these technologies can be maintained by local communities on their own. Gradually, the ambiguous definition of development that was introduced in the world commission was improved, expanded and clarified. Now the currently emerged thought of new development was started to be called as sustainable development. What is sustainable development?
An approach to economic planning, which attempts to foster economic growth while preserving the quality of the environment for future generations, is called as sustainable development. According to the Brundtland Report- 1987, development that meets the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
An approach to economic planning that attempts to foster economic growth, while preserving the quality of environment for future generations is called as sustainable development. Sustainability is the systemic concept which relates to the continuity of economic, social, institutional and environmental aspects of human society.